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Russia to detain Kremlin critic Navalny for 30 days, spokesperson says

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny rides on a bus from a plane to a terminal of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on January 17, 2021.

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV | AFP | Getty Images

Russian authorities have detained opposition politician Alexei Navalny in custody for 30 days, his spokesperson said Monday.

Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter that it was decided Navalny would be kept in police custody through to Feb. 15. in a hastily arranged court hearing. She added that it was not yet known exactly where he would be held.

“They were detained at the border, taken away in an unknown direction, the lawyer was not allowed, the trial was carried out urgently right in the police department, and was arrested for 30 days. It cannot even be called a parody of legality,” Yarmysh said on hearing the verdict, according to a translation.

The development comes after Russian authorities arrested Navalny on Sunday evening when his flight from Berlin, Germany landed in a Moscow airport. It was the first time Navalny had returned to the country since he was poisoned last summer.

His detention had been ordered by Moscow’s prison service in relation to alleged violations of a suspended prison sentence.

In a video posted on Twitter by Yarmysh earlier in the day, Navalny was shown complaining about the absurdity of a makeshift court hearing at Khimki police station, near Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport. “It doesn’t get more lawless than this,” he said, according to an NBC translation.

The United Nations, government officials and rights advocacy groups have all called on Russia to immediately release Navalny, while some countries have pushed for possible sanctions.

In response, Moscow said Navalny’s case had received “artificial” resonance in the West.

Navalny is widely regarded as the most prominent and determined critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The 44-year-old activist had been recovering in Germany after narrowly surviving what has since been independently confirmed as poisoning by a Novichok nerve agent on August. 20.

Navalny has said he believes Putin ordered the poisoning to go ahead, reportedly commenting in October last year that he does not see any other explanation.

Putin’s government denies poisoning Navalny, though investigative reporters have since published evidence to support Navalny’s claims.


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